Calculated Squat Mechanics: Proper Squat Techniques For Efficient Lifting

No wasted effort, perfect form and real results.

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Squats are a fundamental, compound muscle exercise that increase your strength and agility in your daily life. Nothing to be afraid of as long as you do them correctly…

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Don’t Sweat The Technique

Here’s a challenge: Go to the gym, bee-line it to the free weights and count how many people are there lifting. Now, shout, “How do I do a proper squat!?” We bet the number of different techniques will be the same as your headcount.

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The point is: Everybody’s squat is different, because everybody’s build is different.

So, squat form isn’t quite show and tell. It’s understand and apply.

Understand & Apply

Once you understand the different mechanics at work in a proper squat, you should be able to apply them to yourself. Simple enough, right?

1. Breathe!

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First, generally speaking* you should inhale when you descend, hold it as you rise, and exhale at the top. Second, inhale with your diaphragm to allow your abs to stay tight for spinal stability.

2. Shoulder-Width Stance

Align your heels under your shoulders. Easy.

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3. Be Sure-Footed

Keep those feet flat — in full contact with the ground — and turned slightly outward for stability. Resist the urge to tip-toe, we’re not trying to pop our calves out (there are other exercises for that).

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4. Roll Those Shoulders

Shrug up, then send them back while letting your chest rise; this will put your spine in a neutral position. Maintain this for the entire squat by squeezing your shoulder blades towards each other.

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Note: No need to go full silverback here, hyperextending isn’t much better than slouching.

5. Get Your Head Straight

You should be facing straight relative to the bend of your torso, not up towards your destination and not down at your (better be flat) feet.

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6. Accept The Bar

The bar is your friend. If you’ve warmed up properly (highly recommended), that cold metal touch should be a welcome sensation. With your head at the center of the bar, place your grip just outside your elbows. Grip it surely, but remember that your upper back should take most of the weight.

7. 3-2-1-Liftoff!

It’s time. You’re primed. Unrack by straightening your legs. Step back from the rack.

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8. It’s All In The Hips (And Knees and Abs)

You want to bend both hips and knees simultaneously as you descend. Your knees should head outward and your hips will travel behind you. Squeeze your abs tight. The stronger your core, the more stable your spine.

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9. The Point Of No Return

Once your hips have reached parallel with your knees, you’re technically done. However(!), if you want the full squat experience (you do), then just remember A2G (Ass 2 Grass). Break that parallel line before we shoot for the moon.

10. Accelerate Up

You’re not trying to throw that weight through the roof above you, you’re just standing up. Sounds simple, but it’s obviously half the battle. So squeeze those glutes, keep your knees outward, power up those legs, and make those hips RISE! You can STAND! It’s a miracle!

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11. Re-Rack

Lock your hips and knees. Step towards the rack. Unlock your hips and knees. Phew!

YOU’RE DONE! With one rep.

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*When you start adding on more weight, you’ll need more spinal stability. This means looking into the mysterious sounding Valsalva Maneuver. The science isn’t quite in agreement, though, so use with caution.

HELL YEAH! I DID IT! WHAT NOW?

Do it again. And again. Properly.

Like this? Then you’ll also enjoy:

10 Benefits of Squats

13 of the Best Workouts to Challenge and Change Your Body

16 Leg Exercises to Build Head-Turning Thighs

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